Japan, known as Nihon or Nippon (日本) in Japanese, is an island nation in East Asia. Its insular character has allowed it to develop a unique and very intricate culture, while its closeness to other ancient Far Eastern cultures, in particular China, has left lasting influence. Despite belonging to a forever warring nation, both internally and overseas, Japan's people had historically always placed emphasis on inner balance, tranquility and natural beauty. These traditional values have become increasingly important now that Japan has grown to be one of the world's most densely-populated countries, and its legendary work ethic makes life in its cities quite hectic.\nJapan's sophisticated cuisine has spread to all corners of the world by means of sushi (and the less-sophisticated instant ramen noodles), but it is only in the country of its birth where you can truly appreciate its true form. Even more fascinating is the country's popular culture, which has developed a fandom all over the world, in particular manga comics and anime cartoons — with the Japanese taking their affinity to their favorite characters and themes to the extreme.\nIn the 20th century, Japan enjoyed impressive economic growth, putting it among the world's most affluent nations today. This was mostly driven by rapid modernization and specialization in high technology in particular. Due to that, Japan is now full of contrasts between the still alive tradition and much cherished heritage and the ultra-modern infrastructure, buildings and facilities. The country's numerous airports and the world-renowned shinkansen high-speed train system allow easy entry and convenient transport. While the Japanese are known to be reserved and their language skills are not their strongest asset, they will go out of their way to make you feel a welcome visitor. Japanese retail businesses are also known for their legendary customer service, and visitors from overseas are often surprised at the lengths service staff would go to satisfy the demands of customers.